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In the Realm of Expectation

-by Oliver Kaufman


The mind what a curious mechanism, what a marvelous and essential machine. And yet, it is
not without its flaws. As things go from hither to thither to yon, what are we supposed to do with our
minds? An ever-present part of reality, so interconnected with ourselves that we might just mistake it
for ourselves. A mind, a thing apart from reality, yet part of it. A spread sheet, a whiteboard, one that
can get messy. A writing desk, a bag full of words. A yeast infection, a protection against all the things
that are, because behind the mind is something spectacular, something extraordinary, something
wonderful. Fear. Oh yes, essential to the mind is fear, and outrage, and yearning, and surprise, and
expectation, and revulsion, and pulling away from, and recklessness, and hesitation, and
consideration. So many powers in the mind, so many strings to pull, levers to play with, things to
affect, to make happen, to try and stop, to try and divert in a multitude of new directions. Perfection.
Yes, perfection is one direction in which to drive the mind. Perfection of form, of function, of
ability, of skill of all things that the mind plays an integral part in. No need to muck about in the mud
of life, when one can strive for perfection! Really though, it is out of boredom. Or, sometimes it is. Or,
oh who can tell, I'm too bored to tell. Who can know? I'm too bored to know. Yawn. Yes, I yawn and
sing lazily, and swing in the summer breeze. Oh, no need to use the mind too profusely, for one can set
in the summer sun, and fade into obscurity, and allow one's self to be quite stupid if one chooses, for
there is a certain serenity in dumbness, although the mind, and other things, might call it a liability.
Compared to the mind, dumbness is a liability. Do you see the way this works? For even though the
mind is a great tool for accomplishing great things, it is also the way by which things like safety are
accomplished or, so we think. And that safety, mentally accomplished, is undermined by dumbness,
and a lack of intelligence.
But oh what a beautiful thing to relax once in a while in the serenity of dumbnitude! Oh yes,
one can bask in the glory of mundaneness, of stupid jokes, of mindless behavior and ticks and a lack of
self-awareness. Oh, but, is the mind self-awareness? Ha ha, well, that is hard to say although thinking
about self-awareness, that most certainly could most probably be certainly a potential case of what I
was talking about. Oh yes, the mind say too many words, paradoxes, and ungrammatically correct
sentences, and it throws a tizzy. Not that it has a personality, but many inner personalities use the mind,
you see, and value its usefulness. When one is being smart, not stupid, one can communicate more
easily, and one person can understand what the other says, and one's self can, perhaps, understand one's
own thoughts better, too. One can be clear and concise, and most of all, precise. For it is in the mind's
way of doing things, and the way of the mind, that one begets most certainly that certain sense of
mental fortitude and precision, that determination to see through all things, or at the very least keep
things organized. Oh yes, keeping things organized is a beautiful thing, for when thing are organized,
then it conforms to expectations. One can leave a scene, come back, and still be able to use one's old
knowledge in the new situation. Such a fabulous mechanism! And yet, one restrains one's self from
using it. Or rather, one uses it most sparringly. Why?
Because organization is boring.
Or, it can be! I'm sure some able-minded individuals, rich with creative resources, might indeed
find a way to make organizing not so boring, but for me, on the other hand, there is a certain temptation
to leave things, as many things as possible, quite messy. Heck, as long as you don't move that mess
around too much, one can find one's way back to where one left off, no? Expectation still applies.
And yet, no scene is ever the same twice. No scene, twice seen, is ever seen in the same way
again, either. And yet the mind likes slumps, it likes sameness. Patterns. It likes being able to match
things up, between one and another, and say: Oh yeah, those things fit together like that.
Hah, and I do believe, or bet, I'm boring you.
But yes yes, on with the story. There was once upon a time a man without a mind. Or, he had a

mind, but didn't know he had it, and therefore it did him little good, and all the live long day he just
cooperated with the local authorities to deliver news to the local school agency and...
Oh, it seems I lost track of the story. Ok, here we go, let's get back on track.
Ah yes, once upon the time or, a time, rather there was a boy. Why it wasn't a girl, I don't
know. You think I'm writing this story? No no, I'm making this up as I go, and for some reason, for
now, it seems like the protagonist of this story, or at least the first character to show up who I would
assume is a protagonist is a boy. Oh yes, a boy. Um, but is there anything in particular special about
this boy? Hm, no, just a boy. Well ok then, how are we to start this story then, much less complete it?
Hah hah, unless this is to be some sort of demonstration of expectations. After all, I have the
expectation that I'll have a main character to talk about with some special circumstance or ability or
quality to him (or her, potentially), and that, that way, I'll have a story to tell. You know, more than
Once upon a time there was a boy. Really now, should I just say The End and be done with it? I
mean come on, that is hardly a story at all rather, a sort of a blatent statement, built up like a story.
Ah hah, but there we go again with expectations. Once upon a time builds up those
expectations that there's going to be some kind of a story, and when I don't deliver it, you're left to fill
the gap. Your mind has new data to sort through, something new to assimilate. Oh, he's just joking
around, or oh, he's just demonstrating a principle, one that I understand quite well, thank you very
much, or something along those lines. Really now, the mind sets on its way to make up all sorts of
interesting excuses for the things that it did not expect.
Oh, that was just because of this and this.
Oh, there's no problem with that because of this.
If only this had happened, it would've been different.
Tisk tisk, who knows! Don't broken expectations teach us to not trust our own expectations, and
to question them, and to know that they can be broken?
Oh, but like I said...
Organization is boring.
Oh yes, it is very boring, and broken expectations are like a big pile of garbage being dumped
on your lap. Well, not garbage, but papers, odds and ends things to sort through. Oh please, really?
you might say in such a circumstance. You didn't ask for this, you weren't looking for an afternoon
spent organizing, instead of, say, having fun, or keeping up with the work you expected to have. I mean
even if you have a lot of work, it's all the better if it's completely expected far ahead of time, if one
knows what's coming long in advance, right? It's far better if one knows all the ins and outs of what one
is getting into, so one doesn't have to be in the unpleasant and, again, rather boring experience of
putting things back together again, when they seem to have fallen apart.
But what has fallen apart? Your expectations.
Yes, not much else besides that. And it's not like you can make it any easier on yourself by
expecting your expectations to be broken. They might not be. You might get exactly what you expect
and then, well, guess what, now that will be boring. Bah, the same expectations again? It feels like my
life is just repeating itself, again and again, in the same patterns, unable to escape it. Man, everything is
just so boring and similar... I can't stand it.
Well you know what, you don't have to stand it! You can take a stand, stand up for your rights!
Well no, not your rights, but for your, your... what would you be standing up for again? Oh yeah! Not
having to stand everything being boring! You can purposely break your expectations!
But wait, what's that? That would be boring and tedious too? Holy cow, what makes you happy
then? I mean seriously! If you can't be satisfied with one thing, why can't you be satisfied with the
other? Sure it takes a little extra effort stepping out of your comfort, or sameness, zone, but, I mean,
what the hey. Why not do it? Why not...
Well, I suppose I know the answer. The answer is simple, and can be summarized with one
word: blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. BLAH. Yes, blah. Blah because, well, it's a frickin' lot

of extra effort to bust out of your routine, and for what? For what reward? If you expect a reward, well,
then, that's just expectation again. That's just you EXPECTING an award. But I mean, hey, maybe
expectation is not all bad. It's handy for a point of reference, isn't it? You can point at something and
say that is a, and then say, well, whatever it happens to be. Not that it really is that, but at least you
have the impression that it is, and your knowledge about what it's supposed to be can give you some
sort of starting ground.
Hah, but the tricky part is when it comes to you. That's right, when it comes down to what you
expect of yourself. Because, well, your feelings can change. Your motivation can wane. What you
enjoy doing one day, you could find yourself unenthused about the next. Oh yes, motivation can wane,
big time. It can wane and go away and... well, what was I talking about again?
Ah yes, expecting things of yourself. Your spontaneous being. Oh yes, that self that can change
shape and morph so quickly that any attempt to capture it completely is futile, for, well, for one,
yourself, trying to capture it, would also have to be captured. You would have to capture yourself, and
capture yourself capturing yourself. And so on. You get the idea. But where could you go with this?
Hah hah, you think I know? You expect because I talk about such matters, that I'm
knowledgable enough to guide you through this murky terrain? Not a chance. Not a ding dang durnit
darnit chance. We all know what surfaces in the water is not ice cold lemonade. And as such, we should
feel free to dine on the divine not the divine comedy, no, but on divine iced tea, lemonade whipped
up with cream and sugar, and two parts marmalade. Do you not know what I'm talking about? Do you
think I'm mad? Or, well, really now, did you just not account for the existence of absurdities, at least
not here? If that's the case, well I'm sorry to say this but, well... it's your fault. No no, not that you have
a fault, and not that you are at fault in the sense that it's some grevious crime. But whatever problem
you see in what happened, well, that's only your own personal criteria! I suppose I could try to contact
you, and see what kind of words you like seeing written, and try to tailor my words to fit the kind of
words you like to see written, but really now, that's a lot of work for me, isn't it, and it does deny me
one other itty bitty teensy weency tiny winy thing:
My freedom.
Oh yes, wave the banner high, for now I talk about freedom. The freedom to make people
bored. The freedom to introduce situations into this world that other people are burdened with
organizing into their mental experience. Yep. Yes indeed making people bored. Ain't that a
spectacular cause?
But if you think about it, if you really really think about it and I know you are probably still
expecting a story here, but bare with me if you really really really really think about it, it makes
sense. No? It doesn't? Well, I'd assert that it does, particularly because freedom has to do with, well,
freedom, and expectations also have to do with limitations. Oh yes, I know, a clever turn of phrase, turn
of events, etc. Limitations. I will put it in italics for the full affect. Oh yes, this is a self-conscious,
forth-wall breaking narrator, didn't you know? But then again I am just allowing myself to be very
loose with the form of storytelling. It's a rather limited form, don't you think??Rather limited indeed,
when one can do so much more with it, so many more interesting things. Oh, no no no no no, don't get
me wrong I'm not saying that regular storytelling is uninteresting. Quite the opposite. Well, not quite
the opposite. Oh I've gotten myself into a fine mess now, haven't I? Well now, what I mean to say is
that, well, this is a totally different thing! I did say more interesting, but what I really meant to say
was, ah, well, hmm, other interesting... you know, there is more you can do when you draw outside
the lines, although that doesn't mean that what's drawn inside of lines isn't beautiful, valuable, or full of
truth. It very well can be!
But I digress.
Ah, but, I can't seem to figure out where I digressed from. Oh yes, I will cheat and look back
two paragraphs, and see that this was all about freedom. Yes! Freedom to live outside the lines! Not
that I can know all the lines people try to draw around me, but, well, I can certainly imagine them, and

try to live within those imagined lines, made into very real limitations. Oh yes, I can live within those
lines, in a tiny itty bitty little bity box, or maybe a few boxes. But the worst box is well, every box is,
really the one I put around myself. Oh yes! This will all get back to the mind eventually. But yes, no
matter what box we put around ourselves, it is always caused by us, and not anybody else. Our social
anxiety, for instance, can provide a strong motivator to limit our freedom. A fear of conflict, too, can
keep us in our place. But these are the barriers to freedom, and the price to entry to that place of
freedom. That place inside where you can be free. Where you can be different, where you can be what
people don't expect, even if that's something they're not entirely prepared for. Help them through it,
then! Or not. I mean, you're free, so you don't exactly have to do anything. But you could help them
through it! Most definitely.
The End
Oh but at this point it would be right along with your expectations for me to end so abruptly. At
this point, the joke has run on too long it's become predictable expected. Oh, but who am I to
constantly interrupt your expectations? It's like I'm trying to make work for you, trying to make you
work. To get busy organizing new, unexpected bits of data. Isn't that what this is? Data? One could
certainly see it that way. But how shall I end, then? Well, I could just refer you to the section above
where I first mentioned The End, but now that I've mentioned it, it's not half so interesting now, is it?
But on the other hand... well, I don't know the other hand.
Hah hah, so what did you get from this story? Expectations bad, freedom good? Yeah, that
about says it. Distilling down an avalanche of words into a drops of impressions. Not that it's wholly
accurate, but I doubt that anything I could say would sway your opinion now, for I've made an example
out of expectation, and shown how it acts against freedom. And therefore, that implies that freedom is
good, right? Expectation is bad because freedom is good, and expectation detracts from freedom. Well,
conforming to expectations. I mean as long as you don't mind not conforming to expectations, well
then, it's no problem now, is it? Expectation just becomes a tool for dealing with the mundane and the
similar, while that which changes you allow it to be just whatever it happens to change to. Not that you
won't be surprised. For with willful change, how can one not be surprised at times? Something like that
certainly doesn't conform to expectations, certainly doesn't ever get totally pinned down. Or, well,
maybe it's some super complex system, but really, if your model of the complex system shows that a
person will do X, and they're aware that they're predicted to do X, then they'll do... well not Y, but
some, well, unexpected capitalized letter. You see what I mean? Haha, you probably saw what I meant
a long time ago, huh.
Ah yes, a story and a demonstration all in one, a story that ended up more like a lecture on
philosophy and inner jumbo mumbo. Oh yes, but beautiful jumbo mumbo it was. Ah yes, we can
indeed reminisce, even though we just started this a few minutes ago, this carrying on, with me talking,
and you listening. But, ah, it seems as though I implied your responses at parts. But, well, one can
hardly blame me for trying to imbue this story with some element of conversation, given my inability
to extract any real responses from the audience. Oh yes. And now, don't confuse me for the author. I am
no author! I am a narrator. There is a difference. The author is just letting me take over the story, and
lead it in whatever direction I happen to spontaneously choose. He has some ideas about how this
might normally go, but he is certainly giving me the freedom to explore my options. Hah, he even let
me say yeast infection, even though it made no sense at the time, nor here either! Hah ha! Poor soul,
tracking my random babbling. Yes, the author, poor him I'm sure he will appreciate your pity, after
having to deal with this kind of absurdity. You see, he is being constantly surprised here, too. Things
that roll out creatively in words, well, that kind of thing often defies expectation. It is not like a wellcrafted email, each word hand-picked, and deeply examined. There is no effect he seeks to work on the
populace who reads his story, no precise meaning he'd like others to take away. No no, this, this story
thing, this is all just an exploration of reality don't you see? And reality can be very story-like at

times. The real reality the reality of, well, of ideas, metaphors, and energy. Not that any of these
sound very real at all. The body sounds real, the senses sound real. And heck, even the mind sounds
very very real. But, well, ideas are just ideas, aren't they? And yet, they can be the precursor to action in
any direction. In that sense, they are an integral part to both beautiful and terrible acts. Yes yes, this
mental world, that can try to understand the world outside itself, including the world of feelings. Yes,
the world of feelings. A feeling sort of felt place, full of feelyness.
Ah, but where are we going now? Didn't you expect the story to end? I did. And yet here we
are, still talking. Not talking about anything in particular, but, just talking.
Where will it go?
Who knows?